The Old-Time Maori
Caves were used in former times, but not as permanent dwelling places, by people who travelled great distances and had to spend a night or two on the way, or by people who went bird-snaring or to gather berries and fruit at some distance from the kainga. They were also used as temporary refuges or hiding places from enemies. Near my home is Te Hinau, a cave where an old chief called Te Tukutuku lived in hiding from his enemies for three years. Traditions also speak of small whare (houses) built on platforms in the forest. These also were used by people when hiding from their enemies.
When once te whare o te Maori (the Maori house) is erected, it is not taken down and re-erected. To do this to an important house is asking for trouble, as nga atua (the gods) would send punishment in some form or other to the owners and builders. Moreover, when a site has been prepared for a new and important house, it is considered a wrong thing to leave it and prepare another one. Something bad is sure to happen, for the site chosen has been made tapu, and already the body of Papa-tu-a-nuku the Earth Mother has been prepared by digging the holes for the four corner pegs to mark it.page 283
There is a uniform plan for building a whare, whether large or small. It is always rectangular, and has a porch and one room. The timbers and the roof are morticed, and lashed with flax fibre ropes, the windows and doors slide back, and there are no locks or bolts, nor raised floors. The only light comes through the door, which is about 4 feet by 1 foot 6 inches, and a window 1 foot 6 inches by 1 foot, or somewhere about that size. Small hollowed out stone lamps are used at night if required.
For warming the house, a hole might be dug in the centre, and a fire lighted, or glowing embers from a fire outside might be brought in and placed on a stone hearth about 1 foot to 1 foot 6 inches square, chipped out from soft rock by a stone adze. Or again, a fire might be lighted on the ground in the centre. Smoke escaped through the window, and through a small opening in the gable at the front end of the house, just below the place where the poutauhu (one of the two main supports of the house) joined the ridgepole.
Cooking was not done in houses, but in specially built sheds called wharau or kauta, or in the open. Food was generally eaten in the open, or in a wharau. Distinguished visitors, if sleeping in the large important meeting house, might be served with food in the house, but the food must be placed in the narrow space left in the centre as you enter the door. On no account whatsoever must food be put on a sleeping place.
Inhabitants slept round the sides with heads to the page 284 wall, the place of honour being nearest the pihanga (window). This place would be occupied by the chief guest and his wife, people of high rank. The floor would be covered with rarauhe (fern) or raupo (bulrush) or both, and on these would be placed whariki (floor-mats) plaited from flax, paopao, and kiekie. So that rushes and fern spread for the sleepers should not be scattered from the two sides, pauruhanga (lengths of timber) were pegged to the floor, leaving a narrow clear aisle down the centre. There was no furniture of any kind used.
A whare whakairo (carved house) or wharepuni (meeting house) had each a name, generally that of an ancestor, the name being given at the kawa o te whare, the opening ceremony for a house.
Before describing the building of the houses in detail, it will be best to describe Te Kainga Maori, the home or village of the Maori, for to the Maori, the village was his home, and I prefer to translate the word Kainga as Home. In the days that are gone, the Maori built his kainga on high land, for a good look out, and for protection. He also chose a place where there was a spring, either in or near by the place, or a stream or river. Such a choice of site made the Maori a healthy people, for the air was pure, and the kainga easy to keep clean. In this the Maori was particular. Captain Cook was greatly surprised at their progress, and speaks of it in his Journal, to the detriment of European cities of that period.page 285
The kainga would be close to a ngaherehere (bush) where wood could be procured, although the Maori never cut wood or anything else just by a kainga, but always at a little distance or some distance away.
A kainga would be occupied by a hapu (p. 34) made up of several family groups. No outsider would come and settle in a kainga; he would only come as a guest. Each family group had its own piece of ground which would be fenced off, and within this they would have their houses, two, three, or more. These houses would be used for sleeping, and would be anywhere from 12 feet long by 6 or 8 feet wide to 20 or 25 feet long by 10 or 12 feet wide, the head of the family using the largest one. There would be space for more houses if necessary. The houses would all face the rising sun, and also face the marae (plaza) of the village. A family group would have a wharau or kauta built close by, to use for cooking in the bad weather. Many things would be stored in the wharau, such as dry wood stacked in a corner, and various necessary things such as baskets for carrying potatoes and floormats would hang up on the wall. In fine weather, all the cooking was done outside, and all meals eaten in the open. Near the wharau would stand a whata, a wide slab across two posts on which food was stored, and beside this would be two poles standing up from the ground to a height of 15 or 20 feet, on which fish was hung for drying, or strings of pipi or other shell-fish ready for winter use. Each whanau (family page 286 group) had a paepae (latrine) in a secluded place behind the sleeping whare. The Maori was very particular as to cleanliness in this. Near to the outer part of the kainga in the direction of the wharau there was a small rua (pit) in which kumara was kept for everyday use, the rua kai, or food pits, being some distance away from the kainga. All of the buildings or places connected with the storing or cooking of food are described in the chapter on Food.
At the head of the marae, and facing it and the rising sun, stood the wharepuni, the meeting house of the kainga, which was generally used by the chief, who sometimes had a smaller wharepuni standing close by. The wharepuni would be used for entertaining and receiving visitors, for holding meetings, and for laying out the dead during a tangi (mourning), or anything else which might affect the hapu. Near the large wharepuni would stand a pataka, a food house raised on posts, and close to that a whata.
In one corner of the pa at the end facing east was the Tohunga's house. He was the priestly expert, a most important person in a community, and his influence was far reaching. The wharekura or sacred school of learning in which the Tohunga lived will be described later in this chapter.
In my chapter on Social Organization, I have given the names of all the people who were living at Whakarewarewa about 1880, so that the reader can get an idea of the size of a typical village. But the page 287 Maori did not live in one kainga all the year round. If nothing of importance was taking place, many whanau would leave the kainga, and go several miles away to another kainga which belonged to them, perhaps at the edge of a ngaherehere (forest) where they had waerenga (plantations) of kumara and taro, or gathered berries to eat or store for winter use. Or they might go to a small kainga near a lake to get inanga, koura (crayfish), or kakahi (fresh-water mussels). The Maori had many kainga a few miles apart which he occupied at different times, but he would have one special kainga where he had wellbuilt houses. At these other kainga, he might have rougher houses, with perhaps one small wharepuni built like a better-class whare. My old Koroua, Maihi te Kakauparaoa, had a whare where he lived at Whakarewarewa in the thermal district, and six miles away at Parekarangi he had another whare, and ten or twelve miles away at Motutawa Island in Rotokakahi Lake, he had another kainga, with temporary whare in other parts. One often reads in European books that a kainga was found deserted. The writers did not realize that the Maori moves about from kainga to kainga, and probably what they came upon was one of these kainga which were used for a certain period and for a certain purpose, such as gathering food, or cutting down trees, preparing the ground and cultivating food, snaring rats, snaring birds, or collecting fern root. Most of these page 288 things were got at some distance away from the kainga. In my chapter on Food, I have spoken at length about our different kainga and plantations and places where we collected food.
Now that a brief description of the kainga in which these houses stood has been given, I will describe the houses themselves, the method of building them, and the ceremonies which accompanied the building.
The commoner whare which were generally used for sleeping in had little or no carving, except the tekoteko, the figurehead which was called after some ancestor of the owner. These very small whare would not be lined with kakaho (pampas reed) like the larger, but only with raupo (bulrush). But all would have a tekoteko, unless they were very small, and when the Maori spoke of any particular whare, he would call it by its name. (See Plate XIII).
All houses were whare, but a large house would be a wharepuni, and if it were a meeting house fully carved, it would be a whare whakairo (Plate XX), or a whare kura, this last being the name for the house where the Tohunga taught ancient lore and religious rites. The whare whakairo had all the wooden slabs inside and out adorned with carvings, and between the carvings there would be panels called tukutuku, made of platwork in beautiful designs. The rafters would be painted with scroll work and coloured white, black, and red, and the whole house would be finished with the most artistic taste both inside and outside.page 289
The wharepuni was also a large house, though not as large as the whare whakairo, and its interior was not elaborately carved throughout. The poupou or slabs at the sides, and the epa, the slabs at the front and back, might be plain slabs, but the poutauhu at the tungaroa, that is the post which supports the ridgepole at the back, and the poutauhu at te roro, the post which supports the ridgepole at the front, would be either carved, or decorated with scroll work. The rafters would be decorated with scroll work, and the roof lined with kakaho. The space between the poupou would be lined with kakaho, bound and laid either horizontally or diagonally, or the spaces might be filled with platwork like those of the whare whakairo. The maihi and amo maihi outside, that is the gables of the porch, and the posts which supported them, would generally be carved wholly or partially, and the tekoteko would be carved. Every kainga had a wharepuni, a large house which was the property of the community, although the chief had the privilege of occupying it if he so wished. This house would be from 30 to 50 feet long, and 15 to 20 feet wide. A large kainga might have both a wharepuni and a whare whakairo; anyway, if it was a large kainga, a whare whakairo would be erected. This would be anything from 50 to 80 feet in length, and from 20 to 30 feet wide.
There was always tapu connected with the building of a whare hou (new house), but when it was a page 290 whare whakairo, it was very tapu indeed, and great care had to be taken not to pollute that tapu, as the house was under the care of the gods. Preparations for such a building would begin four to eight years, and sometimes more, before the actual building was commenced.
Certain totara trees (Podocarpus totara) had to be chosen and marked for cutting. The cutting was done early so as to get the wood seasoned. This was the wood preferred for all the interior carved slabs, and also for those which adorned the front part, because it was a wood easy to split and work, and lasted well, enduring wind and weather. The Maori had stone tools, so was careful to choose a wood that was easy to work, for the carving was hard and tedious and took a long time.
The Maori of old believed that the forest, especially the trees, were as living beings like himself, who possessed a mauri (life principle). He lived very close to Nature, and the life he led made him understand the beings which his mind created, and who lived in the forest. Te wao tapu nui a Tane, the great sacred domain of Tane, was the offspring of Tane the Fertilizer, just as he himself was, and he treated the forest with great respect. This was the reason why, before cutting down a tree in the forest for building a house, a Tohunga would chant a rite to pacify nga atua before he began cutting and killing one of the children of Tane with human hands.page 291
The men who accompanied the Tohunga to cut the tree would all be under tapu. They would leave the kainga at dawn before partaking of any food, and when they reached the tree which was to be cut, they laid all their toki (axes) at the foot of it, while the Tohunga karakia.
The karakia was an appeal to Io, the supreme being high up in the heavens, asking him to look down upon them and hear their appeal, and to listen also to the name to be given to the new house which was to be built. Nga toki tapu, the tapu axes which possessed the power of cutting, they presented to him, and appealed to have them made noa, to lay their tapu aside, and so make them fit for use.
The Karakia, before Toki cut the Tree, while it is still standing
E Io i runga ia Rangi, titiro iho, whakarongo iho,
O Io above in the heavens, look down upon us, listen to us,
Ka huaina te ingoa o te whare nei ko mea.
A name is given to this house: it is So and So (mentioning name).
Tenei nga tapu, nga mana, nga ihi o nga toki nei,
Here are the sacred, the powerful, the sharp edges of these axes,
Ka hoatu kia koe, kia whaka noa ia,
We present them to you, so that you will make them noa,
Kia whaka tahia i koe.
And put away the tapu from them.
Waerea, waerea, waereai runga ia Rangi e tu nei,
Make a clearing by chopping down timber, with Rangi standing above,
Waerea i raro ia Papa e takoto nei,
page 292 Make a clearing and cut, with Papa the Earth beneath us,
Waerea, i nga Maru, wehi kia tu tangatanga ua tika,
Make a clearing of Maru the feared, who is powerful, and who has authority, and whom we fear. Stand up, straighten your back!
Tane pepeke, Pupuke o te wao a Tane.
Tane the quickener, Tane the enlarger of the forest.
Sung in a chorus, while beginning to cut down the tree
Whano, whano, haramai te toki,
Proceed, proceed, thither with the axes,
Haumi e, Hui e, Taiki e.
And join in, in the cutting of the rib.
The word waerea was used when clearing or cutting away any small branches round the base of the tree, or the shrubs round it, so that the place is clear for the tree to be cut and to fall. Waerea is also used when appealing for tapu to be removed.
When they returned to the kainga in the late afternoon, the Tohunga removed the tapu from the men, and not till then did they eat any food.
Totara (Podocarpus totara) wood is of a deep red colour, and old slabs which are not carved in a whare give the appearance of mahogany well polished with age. It grows to a height of 80 or 100 or more feet, and the trunks are from 2 to 8 feet in diameter. The outside is covered with a thick fibrous brown bark. Massive symmetrical trunks from 60 to 80 feet long are found in many parts of New Zealand. The wood is clean, straight in the grain, compact, and of great durability. It does not warp or twist, is easily worked, and does not-rot. Totara. page 293 was the wood preferred for ornamental carving, especially for the slabs for the interiors of houses, and for the outside in the front.
When the wood was seasoned, the Tohunga whakairo rakau, an expert in the art of wood carving, prepared nga poupou (the slabs) in the lengths required, and began the carving. He was generally a skilled worker, and very few men acquired the knowledge. A carver began his work with his stone adzes and chisels at one end of the slab, with no drawing to guide him. His scheme was carried in his mind, and each figure or part of a figure was carved from memory, as he worked the length of the slab until the whole was covered with the grotesque figures of his imagination. Te ngarara, the lizard, was the only thing he carved to nature. A design much liked by the Maori carver is the spiral, and this appeared in decorated carving on houses, canoes, implements, etc., as well as the double spiral that the Maori knew so well how to carve with exactness. Manaia is another figure, with a long slim body, a bird-like head, and a number of legs. In some cases, only half the body is shown, in others a manaia head merges into the arms of a human figure. Marakihau are figures partially human, with the lower part resembling the tail of a fish. A long tongue protrudes from the mouth. Paua, that is Haliotis shell, was used for the eyes in carved figures. Figures were carved with three fingers only.page 294
The art of carving was known to certain families, and the knowledge was handed down from generation to generation. Nearly all of the carving was of grotesques, whether it was on the slabs of houses, on food houses, gateways, or posts for palisading. The very fine work on weapons, treasure boxes such as kumete and waka huia, and the spiral decorations on waka taua (war canoes), was most beautiful. The Tohunga whakairo would carve all the slabs for a house near the site chosen for it to stand. The building of the whare did not begin until all the material was ready for it, and the preparation and the building together took anything from four to ten years.
No woman was allowed to go near the place where the men were working on a house. She must not set foot on the site chosen for the whare to stand, as it was all under tapu, just as all the men were whether they were working on the carvings or on the building. Should a woman desecrate this tapu the whare would never be finished, and a woman was careful never to go near the place until after the whai kawa (opening ceremony), when the tapu was removed. During this ceremony the whare was made noa by a woman who entered the building through the pihanga (window) with cooked food, and ate some of it inside the whare before coming out of the kuaha (door).
The building of a wharepuni or a whare whakairo was not generally suggested by the chief, but by the page 295 chiefs of his hapu, who were closely related to him. The suggestion might come up at a meeting or gathering of the people. All important matters were discussed publicly at meetings, and never done on the quiet by one or two individuals. When it had been decided to build the house, then meetings took place to arrange for the site. Such a house had to occupy a central position in the kainga facing the marae, the open space where visitors were welcomed and their food served, and the front must face the rising sun. All these things were decided by the principal men of the kainga, including the chief and the Tohunga.
When the site of the house was chosen, the length was marked by placing a peg in the centre, and then measuring the distance to each end peg. The width was then measured. The maro (stretch) was used when measuring, and was done by a man with both arms stretched out to their full extent, that is, about 6 feet. The four corners were marked with wooden pegs driven in by a wooden mallet.
The kaupapa (foundations) were dug about 1 foot to 1½ feet below the level of the ground. A taura (rope made of flax fibre) was tied to one of the centre pegs, then passed round the outside of the four corner pegs, and stretched tightly. This line was used to mark the place where each poupou (side slab) was to be placed in the ground. Pegs at each end marked the place for the poutauhu i te page 296 tungaroa, the large slab which supported the ridgepole at the back, and for the poutauhu i te roro, the one which supported the ridgepole at the front end of the house. The two poutauhu slabs were generally 15, 18, or more feet in height, 2 to 3 feet wide, and 4, 6, or 9 or more inches thick. A trunk of a tree was often used for a poutauhu, left rounded on the inside. As the two poutauhu supported the ridgepole which was the mainstay of the whole house, it was important that they should be strong and well sunk into the ground.
The tauhu or ridgepole was a whole tree trunk which went the whole length of the roof, and might be 50, 60, 80 or more feet long. It was triangular in section. This tauhu was lifted and placed in position in the rangi tapu way.
11. Tungaroa, Interior back of house.
Shewing Epa of carved totara, alternating with tukutuku of platwork (T) bordered with papaka (P) of carved totara, also corner poupou, heke, heke tipi, end of tauhu, and poutauhu i te tungaroa.
12. Te Tara o te Whare, Side of house, interior.
Shewing poupou of carved totara wood with whakarua whetu (rounded cavities), alternating with tukutuku (platwork panels) bordered at top and bottom with papaka of carved totara wood. Dotted lines represent the extension of the poupou below ground.
For a whare whakairo (a large meeting house) all of the poupou and papaka would be carved by a Tohunga whakairo (adept in the art of carving). For a wharepuni (a meeting house of fair size) the interior slabs would not always be carved.
13. Interior front.
T—Tukutuku; pp., etc.—papaka.
A—sliding door (b—korupe, c—whaka-wai, d—pacpac). Arrow and dotted line shew direction and length of slide.
B—sliding window. Arrow and dotted line shew direction and length of slide.
The window and door slid behind the epa into a recess in the double wall, lined with battens. The epa must be cut for the door and window frames.
If the whare was a very large one, a pou-toko-manawa (centre pole) was placed in the centre of the interior to support the ridgepole, and another pole was placed at the front from the tekoteko (figure-head) to the paepae (threshold). Thick slabs like the poutauhu and pou-toko-mana and other heavy slabs would be placed in position close to the deep holes dug for them. They would be tied only at one end, and then lifted in the rangi tapu way, while the bottom ends would be made to slip into the holes ready to receive them. When the slabs were in a straight-up position, several men filled in the holes with earth, beating it well down with heavy wooden posts.
The poupou or side slabs were also firmly and deeply put into the ground, about 2 feet apart, an equal and even number on each side. They were placed with a slight leaning inward, with a cavity gouged out at the top of each, either rounded (whakarua whetu), or squared (waha paepae), so as to take the rafters, whose ends were cut into tongues (teremu) which fitted the cavities exactly. There would be six, eight, or ten poupou on each side of the interior, and page 301 four, six, or more in the porch, each slab being 2 to 3 feet wide and about 4 inches thick or even more. The upper ends were held firm by a kaho matapu, a batten of the full length of the side of the whare, tied on the outer side, and fastened securely to holes in the corners of the inner side of each poupou. Outside each poupou was a pou matua, a strut which was firmly set in the ground, and served to push it inward against the weight of the roof. The four corner poupou were tapu.
The heke or rafters were made of long and strong timber, and were of the same number as the poupou, as each rafter fitted into the cavity on the top end of the poupou, while the top ends of each two rafters met each other on the top of the ridgepole, where they were tied together, or kept in place with the rope which passed over the outer side of each pair of rafters, holding in the battens on the way down to the poupou, where it was tied tightly to the pou matua. The rope used for this was called tua whenua, and was made from leaves of the ti kouka (Cordyline australis). It was very strong, as great strength was needed. The rafters were 15, 18, or more feet in length, and 4 to 6 inches thick, and were either of straight timber, or rounded at the lower end to fit into the whakarua whetu (rounded cavity). They were trimmed with toki (stone axes), whose edge could trim four heke before requiring to be re-sharpened. The top ends of the rafters were some- page 302 times bound tightly together in pairs above the tauhu with strong ties of aka (vines), and were also tied at the lower ends where they passed through the cavity on the top of the poupou.
The kaho or battens, 2, 3, or 4 inches by ¾ to 1 inch, were laid across the rafters from end to end, about 1½ to 3 feet apart, and about 1 foot from the poupou, and about 1 foot from the ridgepole. There was an even number on either side. They were put on to support the thatching of reeds and raupo. These kaho were held in place by a stout rope on the upper side of the rafter, as I have already said. A double turn was made round each batten before passing the rope over the ridgepole down the other side of the slanting roof, where the double turns were repeated. When the rope reached the outside wall, it was secured tightly by a process called mimiro. A strong tree trunk was dug in straight-up at the base of the strut (pou matua) on the outside wall. A short piece of rope was tied to the tua whenua described on the previous page, while the other end was tied to the tree trunk to be used as a lever. The use of this lever placed a great strain on the rope, and this strain locked the timbers of the house. The two poupou opposite each other took the strain, and the rafters were held together on wall and ridgepole. The creaking of timbers was heard under the strain. The end of the tightened rope was tied to the outer strut, and then the lever and short rope were taken page 303 away. So each pair of poupou and rafters were jammed together. The rope end which was tied to the strut was covered with the thatch, which saved it from the bad weather. Great care was taken in lashing the kaho, as it was an omen of evil import if the kaho next to the tauhu were insecurely fastened.
Over the curved heke of dark coloured totara ornamented with their paintings of red, black, and white (the tapering hook-ended puhoro, or many branched koiri), and crossed by their firmly lashed battens (kaho), the first roof covering was laid. When the heke were hewn from light coloured timbers such as the whau or tawa, this covering might consist of the pennate leaf of the many ringed nikau, neatly plaited. To show against the dark heke, screens of the ever dropping toetoe, of a size to fit in the kaho already in place, were closely laced. To the kaho they were bound with bands of flax, the split blade of the honeyed harakeke. Over the reeds were then strewn the dry blades of the raupo (bulrush), each layer being held in place by strips passing over it, and under the laths (karapi) of the toetoe screen. Upon these layers (tuahuri) were again placed bundles of raupo, then of toetoe, then of raupo, and so on until the desired thickness was obtained. Over all this was a thatching of toetoe (ara-whiu-whiu) made, not of the plant which grew by the open streams, but of the forest plant, the toe-toerakau, as this was the most durable. To hold it in position, page 304 light rods of manuka were cut from a clump where many shaggy-coated trees thickly clustered, and these were fixed lattice-wise over the now completed roof.
The slabs of upright totara at the back and at the front of the interior are called epa. They were set in the ground deeply and firmly, upright and not leaning inward, and formed the framework of the tungaroa (back) and te roro (front), and numbered three or five on each side of the poutauhu.
The top ends of the epa were cut slantwise, so as to allow the heke tipi to rest on them. The heke tipi were boards 4 to 6 inches wide and ¾ to 1 inch in thickness, which extended from the ridgepole along the tops of the epa down to the corner poupou. The heke tipi were lashed to the epa, and were close up against the rafters above them. Some whare had no heke tipi, and in these, the end rafters lay against the tops of the epa, and fitted into cavities on the sides of the poupou.
The pou-toko-manawa, generally a totara tree trunk, was, as I have said, placed in the centre of the interior in a line with the two pou-tauhu at each end, and helped to support the roof. It was either left round and plain, or chipped with an adze to form four flat sides and carved. At the base would be the carved figure of an ancestor, after whom the house would be named. Pou-toko-manawa means the post which supports the heart. Before this figure, and midway between it and the poutauhu at the front was the page 305 hearth (taku ahi), its position being marked and kept enclosed by four stones. Here the fire was kindled at sundown, and when the smoke from the burning wood had cleared, red embers only remaining, the occupants would enter, close both door and window, and sleep soundly through the night. So that rushes and raupo spread for the sleepers should not be scattered from the two sides, pauruhanga or paepae (lengths of timber) were pegged to the floor.
Between each pair of carved slabs there were small slabs of totara wood called papaka, each 1½ to 2 feet wide, 8 inches to 1 foot deep, and 2 to 3 inches thick. These small slabs were placed along the lower end of the wall, and also along the top, all the way round the interior of the house, with plat-work panels or reed lining between each pair of papaka and poupou or epa.
Some of the whare were lined with kakaho reeds, either plain, or bound with harakeke and smoked so as to make a pattern on each reed of alternate narrow bands of dark and light colour. The kakaho would be cut into proper lengths so as to allow about 2 inches behind the poupou on either side, and these lengths would be tied one below the other, the slabs covering the tied ends. The reeds might be arranged either horizontally or diagonally. But for a wharepuni or whare whakairo, being specially built, panels called tukutuku, harapeke, or pukiore, were made. The long toetoe reeds (kakaho) were arranged vertically, page 306 and horizontal wooden laths (kaho-tarai), black, white, and red, each of a finger's breadth, and each about 2 feet long, were tied all the way up the vertical reeds. Each lath was laced to each reed with strips of leaves of the kiekie, dyed black, or left in its natural colour, and the single stitches of the lacing made the pattern called poutama. The tuitui worker would begin making the pattern with narrow strips of undressed leaves of phormium, some of which would be dyed black or yellow, while other was left in its natural colour, which is cream or dark cream. If it could be obtained, kiekie (Freycinetia) was the favoured material for tuitui, as it is very white, and when some of it is dyed black or yellow, the three colours are beautiful together. Sometimes only the black and white were used. Pingao (Scirpus frondosus), which is orange in colour, was sometimes employed. The tuitui work in the tukutuku is most effective, and the patterns with colour help to show up the carvings on both sides. These carvings are generally very dark, as most of them are painted a dark red, with only the paua (ahliotis) shell eyes of the grotesque figures to relieve them. Sometimes, but not always, a round rod, tuma-taka-huki, is cross-laced up the middle of each panel. The tukutuku were made by two people, as in the picture, with one on each side to pass the kiekie or harakeke strips through. This was done by means of a piece of wood, generally green manuka, doubled over. Sometimes the worker page 307 simply doubled the piece of kiekie or flax, which is quite stiff. Workers had to be careful that there was no mistake in the tuitui lacing, as it would throw the whole pattern out of place. The panels were fitted into rebates cut for the purpose in each poupou, the whole being kept in position by horizontal battens fixed at the back. Behind these panels, and lashed to the battens, were bundles of raupo (tuparu) reaching from the ground to the eaves, their closeness and thickness excluding all cold air from the interior of the whare. (See Plate XXI.)
As a further precaution against the cold, the earth was heaped up against the tuparu to a cubit (whitianga) or more in height. The back and front walls were finished in the same way, except that the packing in the mahau (open porch) was of a more ornamental nature.
The epa slabs in te roro, the front interior, were cut for the doorway, and for the shuttered opening used as a window. The tatau (kuaha, or whatitoka) was generally 1½ to 2 feet wide, and 3 to 5 feet high, and was a single slab of wood 2 or 3 inches thick. It was opened by sliding it to your left on entering the house, and to the right on coming out. The door was close up against the poutauhu, and was slid into a recess in the wall by means of a cord of twisted fibre with a knot at the end. To fasten the door, the cord was secured by a peg. The frame was begun by laying the threshold, a piece of timber about twice as long as the door was wide.page 308
The threshold, paepae, was a piece of wood 4 to 6 feet long, and about 12 by 12 inches. There was a groove along the upper surface to carry the door, hai toanga i te tatau. The left jamb (whaka-wai), looking from the inside, rested on the paepae, and stood close against the poutauhu, while the right jamb was in two pieces, to allow the door to slide into it. This recess was lined with horizontal battens, to prevent injury to the packing of the walls.
The lintel (pare, korupe, kororupe) over the doorway was generally most elaborately and finely carved. So also were the pieces at the sides, and the paepae.
There was only one window, called pihanga, mataaho, or matapihi, about 2 by 1½ feet. It slid, like the door, but to your right as you enter, and to your left as you came out. It was used more for the escape of smoke than to look out of, and was 2½ to 3 feet above the ground, being so placed that a person sitting on the floor would have the bottom of the window just below the level of his eyes.
The front wall of a whare was set back so as to leave a porch in the front, which would be from 8 to 12 feet deep in a meeting house. As a rule the roro or porch was narrower by a few inches than the rest of the building, though sometimes it was the same size or wider. Its rafters and side slabs were like those in the interior, and there were also papaka between the carved poupou. Reaching from side to page 309 side at the ends of the two walls forming the mahau or open porch before the whare, and resting on its edge on the ground, was placed the paepaeroa, a whitianga (cubit) in height. This “long threshold” of the porch is shown in the picture of the meeting house of Wahiao, with a part cut away in front of the door to make entrance to the porch easier.
Covering the ends of the walls and framing the porch on either side were two broad pieces of timber, the amo, carved with figures fiercely eyed with paua. The amo supported the lower parts of the broad barge-boards (maihi), whose ends, however, carved and perforated with intertwisting spirals, projected downwards beyond the amo. The maihi fitted into a place cut for them at the back of the amo. The angle at the upper ends of the carved maihi was covered by the flat grimacing koruru, above which stood the defiant tekoteko.
The tekoteko or figurehead was decorated in times of rejoicing with red feathers from the kaka. When the koruru and tekoteko ornamented the gable, the end of the ridgepole was left uncarved, the tekoteko glaring with terrifying features from the gable bringing the many-producing sea-gods to mind. It is said that a long time since, Tangaroa seeing the son of Rua-pupuke bathing with other boys in the shallow waters of the shore, shouting when the breaking surf was pouring over their heads and down their gleaming bodies, seized that son, and bore him page 310 away below the waves, and set him as a tekoteko upon the gable of his sea-ridden whare. Rua, learning the fate of his son, in the shape of a fish dived deeply into the realms of the sea-god, and beholding him thus degraded, he destroyed the people with sunlight and the whare with fire, saving only the carved amo and maihi, the tauhu, and the frames of the door and window. These carvings he took with him, and leaving the watery realms, brought them as patterns for the use of the sons of Tiki. Of these sons, Hinga-nga-Roa built the first carved whare and Take Take first used carving for such building.
There are many names known of the famous old-time whare kura, the Tohunga's house and sacred school of learning. The second whare kura or whare wananga was the first known in the world. The form of semblance of this building was obtained from Rangi-ta-muku, the second of the twelve heavens, counting upwards. This knowledge was gained by Tane, Paia, and Rongo-marae-roa, three of the offspring of the primal parents, Rangi and Papa. Whare kura was built after the pattern of that in Hawaiki. The building itself faced the east, and was divided into three parts, the most western part being that of the chief priest, the most eastern the open mahau, and the centre the part where instruction was given. The people procured the material for this edifice, but the Tohunga erected it, and whilst engaged in this labour, they abstained from food until the close page 311 of each day. The chief Tohunga performed ceremonies over the pou-toko-manawa or centre post, and when the kakaho reeds forming the patterned walls were laced in position, karakia were repeated. On the completion of the building, the ta-te-kawa or dedication was performed. A sacrifice of a dog, man, woman, child, or slave, was made, and the blood only presented to Mua. The victim was killed in front of the whare, the body afterwards being buried in the wahi tapu (sacred burial place). A sacred fire and umu (sacred oven) were lighted in the whare and kept burning while the victim was being killed. At the close of day, another fire was lighted in the marae, and kumara and eel were cooked and eaten by the Tohunga and sacred men. In each instance a fresh fire was made, produced by friction.
I have spoken before of the fact that a wharepuni would not be finished for some years after it had been decided to build it. When the decision had been made, all the members of the hapu immediately began to get together the things required for building. Some went with the Tohunga to fell the trees in the forest, as I have already described. Others went great distances to gather bundles of raupo (bulrush) which they carried on their backs to the kainga. The raupo had to be cut at a certain time of year, and a great number of bundles were needed to thatch the inside walls to make the house warm. The raupo had to be dried before the bundles were put away to page 312 keep until they were needed. Then a great deal of kakaho, reeds of the toetoe (Arundo conspicua) was needed for lining the roof and walls between the carvings, and the roro (front porch). This also had to be cut at a certain season, and much time and trouble were spent in finding kakaho of a light instead of a deep yellow colour, and in getting long lengths of the same thickness. The kakaho preferred grew in the forest. It was made up into bundles, tied at each end and in the middle, with green flax, then put into the thick plaited flax-fibre kawe and carried on the back. The kakaho was dried and hung up in bundles in a wharau until it was needed. To gather all the material took many seasons. Wiwi (rush) or toetoe was gathered for the outside covering of the roof, flax fibre for tying; kiekie had to be found in the forest for tuitui nga tukutuku, to thread the plaitwork between the carvings on the walls. Flax and kiekie had to be gathered for making the whariki (floor-mats).
Food had to be provided for the workers, and extra crops were planted. Everyone in the kainga would be busy doing various things, and it was a great pleasure to them, for were they not helping to build their own whare whakairo, the meeting place for the whole hapu? Although it was the chief who wanted to erect the whare and use it, still it was for the whole hapu to use on all their ceremonial occasions.page 313
If they had a pa tuna (eel wier), they would renew it at the right season, and get quantities of eels, some of which they would open (pawhara), though the smaller would be left as they were. The eels were cooked in a hangi and hung out to dry for a day or two, then stacked away in a cool dry place in baskets, or hung up in a wharau or kauta for a time.
Hapu who were related to the hapu which were building the whare would all help in some way by collecting material, sending expert men for carving, scroll-work, or building, or food for the workers; many also were engaged in gathering or growing food for the hui at the opening. The news would be spread far and near, and all of the various hapu helped with everything, so that there was little expense for the hapu who were building the whare.
All this time, many relatives from other hapu would stay in the kainga and help in the various work, and food was being sent from all directions to feed the workers. Some of the people would gather the small fish inanga in the lakes and dry them, others would get koura (small crayfish), and cook and thread them on long strings and hang them up to dry, while still others would gather berries from the forest and cook and dry them. Then, the year of the hui, great quantities of kumara and taro would be planted by many of the clans, who would send the food to the marae where the hui was taking place. Aruhe, fern root, would be gathered and stored in the page 314 various whata, and there would be large rua kumara (sweet potato pits) to hold the kumara and taro so that there would be no shortage of anything. The women would be busy plaiting whariki from flax and kiekie, and rougher mats to go under the finer. Then rough tuwhara, flax floor-mats, would be made for the wharau, and for holding the cooked food on the marae, and kete (baskets) would be plaited for holding the various foods. Wood was collected and stored in great heaps for the hangi, so that when the clans arrived for the opening ceremony, they brought loads of wood and other necessary things for the hui, which lightened the burden for the tangata whenau. Thus there was plenty to eat for the many hundreds of visitors who generally assembled for such a great function.